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On the importance of Dr. Watson
"If you look at any good version of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson is every bit as important as Sherlock Holmes, and some would argue more so, because he's our conduit to Sherlock Holmes. He's the person to whom, in a way, the story happens. We are more emotionally resonant with Dr. Watson than with Sherlock Holmes because Sherlock Holmes is a hard man to empathize with."
(Source: NPR interview; you can read the highlights and listen to the full audio HERE)
I hope that you enjoy it and Happy Easter and Happy Holidays to everyone!
- Current Mood:accomplished
It is no secret that Doctor Watson’s good name has been in question within our popular culture for some time. For decades he was reduced to little more than comic relief; a doting sidekick. The Russian television version of Sherlock Holmes, Granada’s stellar series, the major motion pictures and now the BBC’s Sherlock have made great strides in reinstating the Good Doctor to his rightful place within the Holmes Canon. Their profound impact upon popular culture have introduced new generations to that delicious pastime we all love: “Playing The Game”.
Recently, an article appeared in The University Daily Kansan, which sought to cast some of the more modern incarnations of Watson in the light of the old stereotypes. The folks at The Baker Street Blog asked if people cared to respond to this. While Doctor John H. Watson, M.D., is used to defending the Ladies, I felt certain that as a Gentleman he would not mind (within this instance) if this lady took up her pen to defend him. You may find my response here.
Many thanks for the invitation to post this here in the Consulting Room. :-) Cheers!
- Current Location:At the writing desk, with Toby underfoot.
- Current Mood:determined
- Current Music:Beethoven's Violin Concierto in D Major, 3rd Movement.
"...As to the drugs used in Watson's day, only about a dozen are mentioned. Among them were ammonia, amyl nitrite, brandy, caffeine, ether, chloroform, iodoform, carbolic acid, curare, and silver nitrate. A survey made in England in the early part of this century showed that physicians considered from twenty to twenty-five drugs necessary to practice medicine satisfactorily. If a survey were made today, it is likely that more would be listed, because during the past few years potent antibiotic agents have been discovered and great strides have been made in chemotherapy.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, the famous poet-physician, if living today, could not write as he did in the last century: 'If the whole materia medica (excepting opium and ether) as now used could be sunk to the bottom of the sea it would be all the better for mankind--and all the worse for the fishes.' "
- Current Mood:amused
- Current Mood:amused
If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything pleasant in criticism, it is finding out what we aren’t meant to find out. It is the method by which we treat as significant what the author did not mean to be significant, by which we single out as essential what the author regarded as incidental.
Thus, if one brings out a book on turnips, the modern scholar tries to discover from it whether the author was on good terms with his wife; if a poet writes on buttercups, every word he says may be used as evidence against him at an inquest of his views on a future existence. On this fascinating principle, we delight to extort economic evidence from Aristophanes, because Aristophanes knew nothing of economics: we try to extract cryptograms from Shakespeare, because we are inwardly certain that Shakespeare never put them there: we sift and winnow the Gospel of St. Luke, in order to produce a Synoptic problem, because St. Luke, poor man, never knew the Synoptic problem to exist.
There is, however, a special fascination in applying this method to Sherlock Holmes, because it is, in a sense, Holmes’s own method. ‘It has long been an axiom of mine,’ he says, ‘that the little things are infinitely the most important.’ It might be the motto of his life’s work. And it is, is it not, as we clergymen say, by the little things, the apparently unimportant things, that we judge of a man’s character.
This was written by Monsignor Knox in 1911 (you can read the entire essay here: www.diogenes-club.com/studies.htm ) and Conan Doyle himself was amused by it--you can see his response here: www.diogenes-club.com/knox.htm
Many thanks to wytchcroft for pointing out an excellent audio version of this essay--it is a pleasure to listen to it! You can listen from the website or download it here: www.archive.org/details/KnoxHolmessay
- Current Mood:amused
I have come across this book via the "Always 1895" blog; the entire book is available for reading online (or for download) from the HathiTrust Ditital Library here: hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015046792662
The book's author is Edward J. Van Liere, the title is "A Doctor Enjoys Sherlock Holmes" and the copyright date is 1959.
The book is a series of critical essays, many of them on medical topics (of course), such as " 'Brain fever' and Sherlock Holmes", "Doctor Watson, Cardiologist" and "The Therapeutic Doctor Watson." However, there are also some essays on more general topics, such as: "Dogs and Sherlock Holmes" and "Doctor Watson and the Weather." Moreover, some of the essays focus mostly on Sherlock Holmes, for example, "Sherlock Holmes, The Chemist" and "Genetics and Sherlock Holmes".
I have found many of the essays in this book fascinating; there is one in particular I'd like to share below; it concerns the ubiquitous brandy flask, which is so often mentioned in the stories, and is entitled "Doctor Watson's Universal Specific". Enjoy!
DOCTOR WATSON'S UNIVERSAL SPECIFIC
". . . with the aid of ammonia and brandy, I had the satisfaction of seeing him open his eyes."
The Greek Interpreter
The therapeutic agent most frequently used by Dr. Watson was brandy. Mention is made of this stimulant in a number of the tales. Let us examine the conditions in which Dr. Watson's favorite remedy was used. In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Sherlock Holmes had accused the pathetic Ryder of stealing the valuable carbuncle. The poor wretch turned pale, and Holmes remarked to Watson, "Give him a drink of brandy." In describing this incident, Watson writes, "For a moment he had staggered and nearly fallen, but the brandy brought a tinge of colour into his cheeks. . . ."
We find, in The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge, that when the eminently respectable Mr. Scott Eccles was relating his strange experience to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard came in unannounced and informed Eccles that Mr. Garcia, his host of the preceding night, had been found murdered. Dr. Watson writes that their client turned deathly pale. Holmes quickly suggested to Watson that he give Eccles a brandy and soda. This evidently helped the poor fellow; he gulped it down, and his face soon resumed its normal color.
- Current Mood:amused